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Proposed BKW budget calls for a 1.95% tax levy increase; decreases spending

On Tuesday, May 15, Berne-Knox-Westerlo residents will vote on a $20,324,231 budget for the 2012-13 school year.
The proposed spending plan represents a decrease of 2.59% ($540,673) from the 2011-12 operating budget and carries a projected tax levy increase of 1.95 percent.

Voters will also decide on a bus proposition and vote to elect a candidate for the school board.

After projecting costs for the next three years, the Board of Education adopted the proposed spending plan for 2012-13 on Monday, April 16.

“We were dedicated to crafting a plan that would allow us to maintain funding for our current program and enhance it in the future,” said Superintendent Dr. Paul Dorward, “Recent budget seasons have been fraught with difficult decisions. We are proud to say that the numerous cost-saving measures we have implemented have allowed us to become more efficient.”

Due to decreases in state aid over the past three years, the district had to find creative ways to maintain a stable educational program on a limited budget.

BKW is working to offer the best possible educational program for all its students. The three-year budget projection allows the district to maintain a strong core curriculum and invest in technology while being mindful of the burden on taxpayers.

This year, one of the major factors in the budget formation process was the new “tax levy cap” legislation enacted by the state earlier this year.

The law requires school districts to use a new complex eight-step formula to calculate their budget. Under the new rules for contingent budgets set forth by this law, BKW would have to implement a zero percent tax levy increase if the proposed budget is not passed by voters after two attempts.

The tax levy is the primary source of revenue the district receives. If the district has to operate under a contingent budget and a zero percent tax levy increase is implemented, due to the decrease in the districts other main source of revenue – state aid – it will be difficult to keep up with rising costs and additional reductions will be made.

“We do not want our community members to suffer a tax burden that they cannot bear” said Dr. Dorward. “We also know how important it is to provide our children with the resources they need to be prepared for higher education and the work-force.”

What reductions and additions are part of the 2012-13 budget?

Staffing Reductions

Secondary School - 2.4 FTE positions total
Technology Teacher* - 1.0 FTE
English Teacher** - 1.0 FTE
French Teacher** - 0.4 FTE
 * Position vacated and to be filled by outsourced BOCES service
   ** Due to declining enrollment in this area

Service Additions

BOCES Tech III (Technology) - 0.6 FTE
BOCES Psychologist - 0.4 FTE

Program Reductions

Bus Runs - Reduce three of current ten late bus runs

Program Additions

Aventa Blended Learning
Aventa is a BOCES program like NovaNet, used for credit recovery and credit accrual, which the district feels could potentially work better for BKW’s needs. A pilot program of Aventa will take place next year.

Instructional/Discipline Support
A current teacher will be on special assignment to provide support for disciplinary measures and instruction.

Computer Technology

Next year, this will be funded by the district’s fund balance. BKW is eligible to apply for a performance grant due to student performance in the middle school grades. If BKW is approved for the grant, it will be used to offset a portion of the technology expenses.


What cost-saving measures has the district implemented?

Below are some of the initiatives the district has undertaken in the last three school years, as well as actions currently in the works, to maximize savings and efficiency. Partly because of these savings, the district has been able to decrease it’s overall proposed budget for 2012-13.

Savings from 2009-12
• Reduced 19.7 FTE staff positions over the last 3 years
• Implemented a shared Transportation Supervisor with Schoharie
• Reduced transportation mileage by 119,000 miles
• Reduced 7 bus runs over the last 2 years
• Reduced overall bus fleet by 2 in 2011-12 with more reductions planned for next year
• Auctioned 5 retired buses receiving over double their trade-in value
• Hired new bond counsel as of 2011 and independent auditor as of 2010
• Use a health insurance administrator through the New York State Municipal Benefit Coalition
• Requested consideration to enter a health insurance trust and new prescription drug plan
• Requested a new insurance price quote for property and buses
• Requested participation in a consolidation study to find opportunities to share services with other neighboring districts
• Requested proposals for banking services (improved interest rates)

Efforts undertaken annually
• Share purchase of electricity through NY School & Municipal Energy Consortium
• Purchase used textbooks/price other vendors
• Member of the Workers Compensation Trust with Schoharie Area Schools Trust
• Use state contracts for heating oil, transportation fuel and propane
• Save on utilities with the energy performance contract and solar panels
• Use Albany County contract pricing and BOCES for aid-able equipment purchases
• Use BOCES cooperative bidding -- includes items like copier toner and ink, custodial supplies, food services and school supplies

Click here to go back to the 2012-13 school budget page.